The fathers of two Marines killed in Thursday’s suicide attack at Kabul’s airport have expressed outrage at the U.S. government’s handling of the withdrawal of American forces, with one claiming President Biden “turned his back” on his murdered son.
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” Steve Nikoui, the father of Kareem Nikoui, told The Daily Beast. “I blame my own military leaders. … Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”
Steve Nikoui told the website that he was notified of his son’s death by a group of Marines who showed up on his doorstep Thursday evening. The elder Nikoui said he had stayed home from work after hearing the news of Thursday’s attack and had been “glued to the TV” waiting for any word of his son.
Nikoui said the Marines who delivered the dreaded news were “more choked up than me.”
“I was actually trying to console them,” he said. “But at the same time, I just wanted them to get out as soon as possible so that no one from my family came back and saw them. I thought it appropriate that I be able to tell them.”
Before being sent over to Afghanistan, Kareem Nikoui had been stationed at Camp Pendleton, near his family’s Southern California home. Steve Nikoui recalled that his son regularly made trips home on weekends, often bringing “10 or 15 other Marines” with him.
“My wife and I felt very honored that [since] these other boys weren’t around their homes, that we were able to provide some sort of family life for them,” said Nikoui, who added that his son “really loved that [Marine Corps] family. He was devoted. He was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go.
“No hesitation for him to be called to duty.”
But Nikoui told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Friday that his son “had voiced some worry to the family” about the situation in Afghanistan and admitted that “the way that the Taliban had pretty much infiltrated the whole country so fast, and we were just kind of, it seemed, left to just this one little airport, really concerned me.”
Nikoui went on to compare the area of the airport Kareem and his colleagues were patrolling to a “turkey shoot.”
“Basically, it’s funneled into like a single-file type [of] entry point at which, you know, if you have any sort of chaos of any sort, they would all gather to that one funneled area [in] which they would all be susceptible, and I think that’s exactly what happened,” he said. “It was just basically so chaotic and not really planned out. Now, I’m a carpenter and even I could spot that with my untrained military eye.”
In Missouri, the father of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz told radio station KMOX Friday he was “incredibly devastated” by his son’s death.
A @USMC Marine assists a woman and child during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. #HKIA (Department of Defense)
Mark Schmitz said that his son, who had been sent to Afghanistan from Jordan in recent weeks, had always wanted to become a Marine.
“I have never seen a young man train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he could be,” he said. “And that’s a big part of, obviously, why we’re all devastated and sad, but there’s so much anger right now because he wasn’t even given that opportunity to demonstrate all the skills he had perfected and learned while in the Corps.”
“He took his job very seriously,” Mark Schmitz said of his son. “And somebody just came along and took the easy way out and ended everything for him and for us, and for those others that were killed.”
When asked if he had a message for Americans grieving his family’s loss, Schmitz responded: “Be afraid of our leadership, or lack thereof. Pray every day for the soldiers that are putting their lives at risk and doing what they love, which is protecting all of us. I think they’re the only ones that we can honestly say have our backs.”
Nikoui, Schmitz, and 11 other U.S. service members were killed when a suicide bomber attacked the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport, where thousands of people have gathered over the past two weeks in a desperate attempt to get on evacuation flights out of the Taliban-controlled country.
In addition to the 13 who were killed, at least 18 other service members were wounded. Some 170 Afghans were also killed in the attack, which was claimed by the ISIS-K terror group.
The attack has touched off a new round of criticism over the botched pullout, with the Pentagon admitting Thursday that it is relying on the Taliban to provide security outside the airport via a system of checkpoints, where fighters have been assaulting and beating anyone who attempts to pass.